Post Graduate Work Permits

Canada is an increasingly popular destination for international students seeking to pursue their academic goals through the country’s Study Permit Program. The country offers a welcoming and inclusive environment, high-quality education, and excellent career opportunities. Upon graduation, however, students may face challenges transitioning from their temporary resident status to obtain experience in the Canadian job market or permanent resident status.

Fortunately, Canada offers a Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) that allows graduates with Canadian study permits to obtain work permits (Post-Graduate Work Permits or PGWP) and gain valuable experience working in the country. Furthermore, PWGP holders can obtain work experience through this program which can qualify them for permanent residence status in Canada under the Express Entry: Canadian Experience Class immigration pathway.

This guide aims to provide a general overview of Canada’s PGWP program, its benefits, eligibility requirements, and application process. For inquires specific to your PGWP program or study permit applications, it is recommended that you speak with a Canadian immigration lawyer to help improve your chances of approval.

Recent Trends with Canadian Study Permits

From 2015 to 2022 the number of foreign nationals with Canadian study permits has significantly increased from 219,040 to 550,185.[1] Despite COVID-19 causing a large fall of issued study permits in 2020, Canada has significantly increased the number of issued study permits in both 2021 and 2022 as shown below:

Screenshot 2023 05 23 at 10.06.42 AM

Additionally, as shown below, the countries with the most issued Canadian study permits between 2021 and 2022 have consistently included India, China, France and the Philippines.

Screenshot 2023 05 23 at 10.08.57 AM

What is a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?

The post-graduation work permit (PGWP) is a document that allows eligible international graduates to work in Canada after completing their studies. The PGWP is an open work permit, which means that it allows you to work for any employer in Canada and in any industry. The length of the PGWP is based on the length of your study program. As a result, the validity of a PWGP can be from anywhere from a minimum of eight months and up to a maximum of three years.

Generally, PGWPs are non-renewable, meaning that holders extend these work permits upon its expiry. Effective from April 6, 2023, however, Canada announced that eligible PGWP holders can restore their expired work permits and work an additional 18 month in the country even if the 90-day restoration period has passed. This new policy, however, is only temporary as the IRCC has specified that the application window will be open until December 31, 2023.

Eligibility Requirements for PGWP

The IRCC has outlined an eligibility criteria that international students must meet in order to qualify for a PGWP, which includes:

  • Completion of an academic, vocational or professional training program at an eligible Canadian institution that is at least eight months long;
    • What Qualifies as an Eligible Canadian Institutions?
    • An eligible Canadian Institution must be identified as a Designated Learning Institution (DLI) by the IRCC. DLIs include public post-secondary institutions and private post-secondary institutions that operates under the same rules and regulations as a public institution, or a Canadian private institution authorized by provincial or territorial statute to confer degrees.
    • Full List of DLIs Approved by the IRCC
  • Maintained full-time student status in Canada during each academic session of your program of study, which is submitted as part of your PGWP application.
  • Obtained a transcript and an official letter from the eligible DLI confirming that they have met the requirements to complete their study program, which are both included in their PGWP application
  • Within 180 days of the date of applying for a PGWP, graduates must also hold or have held a valid study permit.

Please be advised that may also apply for a PGWP from inside Canada or from another country  as long as you’re eligible for the program.

Conditions that may Affect PGWP Eligibility

There are certain conditions that may affect an international student’s to obtain a PWGP, including:

  • If you have previously been issued a PGWP, you may not be eligible for another one.
  • If you have completed a program of study that was less than 8 months in duration, you are not eligible for a PGWP.
  • If you have completed a program of study through distance learning, you are not eligible for a PGWP.
  • If you did not maintain full-time student status during each academic session of your program of study, you are not eligible for a PGWP.
  • If you studied at a non-designated learning institution, you are not eligible for a PWGP.

Please be advised that the IRCC has provided additional conditions that can render graduates ineligible for a PWGP beyond the above-list.

PGWP Application Deadlines

International students must apply for the PGWP program within 180 days of receiving written confirmation from their educational institution that they have met the requirements for completing their academic program.

Applying for a Post-Graduation Work Permit

To apply for a post-graduation work permit, the IRCC has outlined the following as steps that an international students can take to complete their application:

  1. Obtain a degree, diploma, transcript or official letter from your school confirming you attended and graduated the study program. Documents must include your name, the title of the program plus institution, and the length of study completed.
  2. Download and complete the application form for a post-graduation work permit from the IRCC website.
  3. Pay the application fee and include the receipt with your application.
  4. Submit your completed application package to the IRCC.

You can submit your application online or by mail, but online applications are generally faster and more convenient. If you’re applying online, you’ll need to create an account on the IRCC website and provide your personal and educational information. You’ll also need to upload the required documents, including your completion letter, passport, and any other supporting documents.

Once your application is submitted, it will be processed by the IRCC. You may be asked to provide additional documentation or attend an interview as part of the process. If your application is approved, you will receive a post-graduation work permit that allows you to work in Canada for up to three years, depending on the length of your program of study.

Please be advised that you cannot start working until your study and work permit have been approved. Furthermore, If you do not apply for a PGWP after 90 days of your study permit expiring, or if the 90 days have already passed, then you must leave Canada.

Working in Canada with a PGWP

Once you have been approved for the PGWP, you can begin working in Canada. As an open work permit, the PGWP allows you to work for any employer in Canada and in any industry. Additionally, the PGWP is exempt from the requirement for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is typically required to obtain most work permits in Canada.

It’s important to note that the length of your PGWP will depend on a number of factors including:

  • Whether the applicant’s passport expires before the post-graduation work permit’s validity period. To ensure the full validity of their post-graduation work permit, the applicant will must apply for a work permit extension after renewing their passport since a PGWP cannot exceed their passport’s validity date.
  • The length of your study program, the IRCC’s criteria to determine a PGWP’s validity period is briefly outlined in the table below.
    • Please be advised that PGWPs are valid from a minimum of 8 months to a maximum of 3 years and that the following table does not include all exhaustive factors in which the IRCC takes into consideration (e.g., Programs of study at a Quebec vocational programs with a diploma of college studies).

Length of the Program or Programs of Study at a DLI

List of Possible Lengths of the PGWP that can be Issued

Program of study is at least 8 months and less than 2 years.

·      Length of PGWP coincides with length of the study program

o   Excludes regularly scheduled school breaks (e.g. Reading week, winter break or summer break)

·      For individuals who complete a master’s or doctoral degree that is 16-23 months in length, a PGWP of up to 3 years can be issued

o   Excludes regularly scheduled school breaks (e.g. Reading week, winter break or summer break)

Program of study is 2 years or longer.

·      3 years

o   Excludes regularly scheduled school breaks (e.g. Reading week, winter break or summer break)

Student completed more than one program from an eligible DLI within 2 years.

·      Each program of study must meet all PGWPP eligibility requirements and be at least 8 months in length.

·      PGWP should be the combined length of each program of study in Canada

o   If the combined length of the programs is 2 years or longer, PGWP length may be for up to 3 years


The Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) program presents an excellent opportunity for international students seeking to gain valuable work experience and transition to permanent residency in Canada. By obtaining a PGWP, graduates can tap into the numerous advantages Canada offers, such as quality education, a welcoming environment, and excellent employment prospects.

To ensure a smooth transition from studying to working in Canada, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the eligibility requirements and application process for the post-graduation work permit program. For personalized assistance with your work, study, or visit plans in Canada, consider booking a consultation with one of our Canadian immigration law professionals at Borders Law Firm.

At our immigration law firm, we specialize in providing tailored legal advice and support to international students. We understand the unique challenges and legal obligations that accompany studying and working in Canada. Our team of experienced lawyers is committed to assisting you in achieving your immigration goals effectively and efficiently.

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